Around 7:30 PM, I was 4-5 cm dilated and they administered an IV. We discussed an epidural and I decided to give up the ghost of natural childbirth after enduring more than 24 hours of regular and increasingly painful contractions. My fear was that dealing with the pain would tire me out too much to push. Moreover, I felt like I was impeding my own dilation and progression by tensing up during the later contractions. The earlier ones from the previous 24 hours were easier to work through and somehow relax during the pain; whereas, I found myself trying to freeze the pain and just wait each contraction out until it dissipated with the later more painful ones.
I'm so thankful that I wasn't stubborn about this decision because it would be another 2 hours before the epidural was put in around 9:30 PM. I've come to realize that this decision is truly a personal one. At some point during the experience, you have to weigh many more factors than just your tolerance for pain---for me, time was my most weighty factor. I really wanted North to be born on April 7, my Grandpa Kennelly's birthday. We had already decided to name him in honor of Dave's grandfather, Paul North Kilian, for his first name. And we wanted him to carry my maiden name, Miles, for his middle name. So having him on April 7 was my way of honoring a part of my other grandfather as well. Nothing like putting a little added pressure on yourself! But honestly at 9:30 PM when they gave me the epidural, I didn't think having him before midnight was remotely in the cards.
Fifteen minutes later, at 9:45 PM Dr. B broke my water, which was a relief and the I'm-going-to-pee-my-gown-feeling went away (because well...I did pee my gown essentially). She measured me at about 5 cm after she broke the water. The sweet epidural surrounded me like a warm hug and all become happy with the world again. I also stopped shivering like a madman, which I think was starting to freak Dave out. Neither of us were prepared for the uncontrollable shaking that overtook my body when labor started. Dave wore his heavy fleece jacket for the duration of my labor, the room was so cold, but I couldn't feel a thing.
By 10:00 PM, I was 8 cm dilated. You got that right, I had progressed 3 cm in fifteen minutes because that's the way I roll. The problem with such quick progression though was that North's heart rate started dropping. They gave me oxygen, attached an internal fetal heart monitor to North's head and had me change positions to see if that didn't improve his heart rate. There was talk about a C-section at that point, but only as a last resort. Dr. B. really wanted to give me every opportunity to have him vaginally (sorry to any guys reading this, I know that word is upsetting to you). And although having him via C-section was not part of my grand vision, I would have signed up in a heartbeat if there was any real fear of distress for him. But he stabilized within 15 minutes or so.
At 10: 30 PM, I had progressed to 9 cm and 0 station. A catheter was inserted so I no longer had to be concerned about peeing my pants. I also think that catheters should be prerequisite for pregnant ladies throughout the duration of gestation. There should be laws about such things. Write to your Congressman ladies!
North still needed to move further down before he could be delivered. So I started pushing at 10:50 PM. I wasn't very good at it at first quite frankly. It probably took the third contraction to really get a good feel for what I needed to do. There was also a brief confessional period where I admitted I wasn't pushing with my full effort due to my fear of pooping. Everyone assured me that pooping was normal and they wouldn't be bothered by it. But, I still didn't believe them. It helped, but to be honest I could have pushed more the whole time. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't because I would probably have ripped up my body a lot worse if I did give it 110%.
Dave was, of course, awesome throughout the entire experience. When he wasn't texting friends and family with progress reports, he was holding my hand or making me laugh. As a matter of fact, the entire process was miraculously pleasant, intimate and enjoyable for all four of us. Dave held one leg, while Nurse Mary held the other and counted out loud. Dr. B, encouraging me the whole time, updated me on the progress down below and directions on what to do next. Meanwhile I held Dave's other hand, closed my eyes and tried my darndest to focus all my energies on the task at hand.
They positioned a mirror for me to watch, which surprised me that I actually wanted to see what was going on down there. I also thought it would help me to see what progress I was making and what kind of pushing was most effective. When he crowned, Dr. B asked me if I wanted to feel his head. That was the second most awesome thing I have ever felt. The first was a couple of minutes later, as North shot out of my body. That's the only way I can describe it because I had no idea the process would be that quick. I ended up pushing for 50 minutes, and North was born at 11:39 PM. As soon as he came out, they laid him on a blanket on my chest and laughter emitted from deep inside me at the realization that he was out. Never have such true tears of joy been shed from these eyes. Looking back on that moment now, I can clearly see that I have been building up for that one moment of pure joy my entire life.